On March 18, the Brazilian government made an announcement that transforms the process for Americans interested in visiting South America’s largest country (by both area and population). At some point in the near future, United States citizens will no longer need a visa when traveling to Brazil.
The U.S. joins Australia, Canada
Here’s a look at all you need to know about this change and how it might affect business travel to Brazil.
Current Challenges for Americans Visiting Brazil
For many years, Brazil has put in place strict visa requirements on U.S. visitors. These requirements were meant to mirror the strict visa requirements Brazilians face before traveling to the United States.
But strict visa requirements have placed a drag on Brazil’s tourism industry. For example, Brazil currently plays host to about 6.6 million tourists each year. In 2017, New York City received more than twice as many visitors. Brazil is Latin America’s largest economy, and it would make sense for it to be one of the leading global destinations. But the lack of tourists has remained a missed opportunity.
The country began addressing its tourism challenges in November 2017, announcing an expedited visa process that would allow Americans, Australians, Canadians and Japanese to secure e-visas in about 72 hours. Previously, travelers wanting to visit Brazil would have to work with the Brazilian consulate or visa center, and the Brazilian government sometimes requested bank and credit card statements before approving visa. Needless to say, many prospective visitors balked at providing sensitive personal information to a foreign government.
The introduction of expedited e-visas helped to some degree, but Americans wanting to visit Brazil still have to pay $44 for a two-year visa or $160 for a 10-year visa. That will change once visa-free travel is in place.
Why is Brazil Now Changing to Visa-Free Travel?
In January, Jair Bolsonaro assumed office as Brazil’s new president. Bolsonaro is focused on global tourism as one of his first priorities.
The no-visa initiative is part of his plans for the Foreign Ministry in the first 100 days of the new administration. Brazil is focused on doubling the number of international visitors it receives by 2022. And the no-visa program is just part of a larger plan — Brazil also plans to double its spending on international tourism advertisements to more than $34 million by 2023.
What Does This Mean for Business Travelers?
First and foremost, this change means that business travelers can much more easily access Rio de Janiero, São Paulo, Brasília and other centers of commerce. Streamlined travel to Brazil could mean the potential for new clients, new partnerships, new locations and more.
This change also means that a United States passport becomes much more powerful. We recently shared a post about the most powerful passports in the world, and the United States will now climb from sixth on that list into a tie with Luxembourg and Spain in fifth place. Once the no-visa program is in place, Americans will be able to travel to 186 global destinations without needing an advance visa.
If you have questions about traveling to Brazil and how this change might impact you and your business travel, we have answers. At JTB Business Travel, we are the corporate travel agency that helps companies large and small make the most out of their investments in business travel — visa and passport assistance included. Behind every service we provide and every recommendation we make is a common sense approach to business travel.